ALTAR VOLCANO TREKKING ULTIMATE GUIDE

The great Altar volcano offers its visitors to enjoy one of the best hiking trails in the Andes mountain range, with spectacular landscapes that will take your breath away! 

The Altar is also known by the locals as “Capac Urcu”, which means “The mighty one or the lord of the mountains”. Its snow-capped peak reaches a maximum height of 5,319 meters above sea level.

The hike to the Altar volcano is one of the most rewarding and challenging you will experience. It is surely one of the places at the top of any mountaineer’s list. Here you will be surrounded by a totally natural environment, with impressive snow-capped peaks and the gentle sounds of waterfalls. 

Keep reading this post and find out all about the Altar Volcano hike and all the wonders this natural site has to offer. 

 

 

FAST FACTS ABOUT ALTAR VOLCANO

 

El Altar volcano with an altitude reaching (5319 m /17,451 ft) is framed in the top 5 of the highest volcanoes in Ecuador. It is located in the western part of Sangay National Park, in the provinces of Chimborazo and Tungurahua. 

Sangay National Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. This park contains two active volcanoes: Tungurahua and Sangay volcano. 

El Altar is an inactive volcano, covered by glaciers. It erupted approximately 500 years ago. Its cone collapsed completely and gave rise to the iconic cathedral-altar shape it has today.

Its formation is composed of several peaks and huge agoras surrounding beautiful lakes.  Among the most outstanding are: Laguna Amarilla or Caldera, Azul, Verde, Pintada and Mandur, among others. 

The Yellow Lagoon is one of the most outstanding attractions of the volcano, for its unique greenish color and due to the location inside the volcano’s crater

 

 

HIKING IN ALTAR VOLCANO

 

Altar has been cataloged as one of the most beautiful snow-capped peaks in Ecuador. The hike to its summit is really demanding and recommended for experienced climbers. 

In contrast to the hike to the crater lake, which is much more accessible to any climber. 

Actually hiking the Altar volcano is one of the most remote, this is also due to the unpredictable climate of the place. You must be prepared for rain and mountain fog. 

For those who wish to jump into the adventure, it is advisable to prepare physically and practice on other smaller summits to acclimatize.

 

TREKKING ALTAR VOLCANO – 2 DAYS 

DAY 1 

The adventure to one of the most magnificent places in Ecuador will start very early, at approximately 3:00 – 4:00 am driving through beautiful landscapes. Then we have breakfast on the way to Riobamba.

We will travel to Riobamba and arrive at Hacienda Releche at approximately 11:00 am and hike from Hacienda Releche to the Capac Urcu Refuge (Difficulty: Medium – Advanced / Hiking time: 7 hours approx.) At 18:00 pm, we will have our campsite (The campsite is prepared, the tents are set up), and the night will end at 19:00 pm with a delicious dinner.

 

DAY 2 

On your second day you will hike from the Capac Urcu refuge to the Laguna Amarilla / Hiking time: 3 hours approx (Difficulty: Medium – Advanced). Then, we will have breakfast at the Laguna Amarilla at 6:00 am approx.

Descent from Laguna Amarilla to Hacienda Releche / Hiking time: 8 hours approx (Difficulty: Medium – Advanced). After the hike, we will have our lunch at 14:00 pm approx. and our trip will end at 16:30 pm approx. and we will return to Riobamba and then to Quito.

 

WHAT TO BRING 

The trails to access the Altar volcano are challenging and difficult, so here are some recommendations of what to pack.  

  • Rubber boots and knee-high socks. 
  • Water purifier 
  • Sleeping bag
  • Soap and towel
  • Candles and a good lighter
  • A headlamp
  • A change of dry clothes to wear at night and something warm to sleep in 
  • Lots of layers, including hats and gloves
  • Rain gear
  • Sunscreen and sun hat
  • Trekking poles for balance and leverage in the mud

 

For sure visiting this beautiful snow-capped mountain will be a rewarding and worthwhile challenge. Here you can check more details about the tour to the Altar Volcano and book a reservation to start this adventure. 

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